Bourbon Chase or Bust

Graphic that reads "Team MLC will run for bourbon." The graphic is an outline of Kentucky, a stylized runner, and a jug of alcohol.Today I ran my last training run before my relay race, the Bourbon Chase, which starts Friday morning.

My team of twelve and I will run 200 miles through Kentucky. Yes, we will run past distilleries. No, we’re not allowed to drink on the race.

I’m pretty excited for this relay, which is a big change from last year’s race when I was panic-stricken during the days leading up to the start. Naturally, this means that it will pour rain or something the whole time and I’ll be miserable.

(pleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorain)

I’m hoping it is fantastic, rain or no rain. Either way, it will be an adventure. We have such a great team that I can’t imagine it won’t be awesome. (Famous last words.)

My team has a Facebook group that you are welcome to join to keep track of our progress if you’d like. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/296287543915022/ We’ll be using this to communicate between our two team vans, so you should be able to see how we’re doing there. I’ll also be sharing updates on Stimeyland’s Facebook page. And probably my own Facebook page.

Huh. So many Facebook outlets.

(I probably won’t be updating Ello though because I don’t understand how to use it.)

I leave on Thursday morning. Wish us luck!

If you are interested in reliving the joy of last year’s relay, here are the links:

#racemadness (Includes your guesses in the comments as to what MLC stands for.)

33:36:26

Reach the Beach 2013 Race Report: Victory in New Hampshire!

Alex Is Furious With Each and Every One of You

Photo of Sam holding a package of reeds and an instuction book that says "Bassoon" on the front.Well. I don’t know that I have ever gotten so many comments that ALL agreed with each other. And for the record, I agree with you all too. And we all agreed soooooo vehemently that I almost feel bad for Alex and his pro-flute position. So let’s all give Alex a big virtual hug and a sympathetic head bob and then we can move on to celebrating how awesome *I* am for having had the right answer. Also, Sam. Sam gets some kudos for being all right too.

p.s. Thank you all for every single one of your very thoughtful comments. I so appreciate every one of them!

To Bassoon or Not To Bassoon?

Sam plays the flute. I think I’ve been pretty open about that. Well, recently he came home from school saying that his advanced band at school (in which, in case I’ve been unclear, he plays the flute) doesn’t have a bassoon player and they need a bassoon player and, hey, maybe he could be the bassoon player.

Cue me going to the internet to look up what a bassoon looks like.

photo of two bassoonsOkay.

That looks…complicated.

So now Alex and I have to make a decision as to whether we should let Sam play the bassoon in his band. We do not agree. One of us is right and Alex is wrong.

However. On the tiny, tiny chance that maybe I’m wrong, I’m going to let all y’all weigh in on this. Per usual in internet he says/she says, I’m not going to tell you which one of us thinks what.

THE FACTS, UNDISPUTED:

1. Regardless, Sam will continue to take flute lessons.

2. Regardless, Sam will play the flute in jazz band.

3. Sam has agreed to practice both instruments.

4. We can rent the bassoon for $40 a year so only have to pay for reeds and instruction books.

5. Sam’s music teacher is very happy with the idea that Sam might play bassoon in advanced band.

6. Sam has aspirations of being a professional musician and hopes to play in a band or symphony for a living, thus making his parents extremely proud and also condemning them to years upon years of sitting quietly in stuffy concert halls listening to classical music. And the occasional jazz concert.

THE ARGUMENTS, BITTERLY DISPUTED:

Sam plays the flute. He has invested 3+ years in flute playing. He takes flute lessons that we pay for AND drive him to and from every week. We recently bought him a fancy-ass flute. He is very proud of being a flute player. Sam should continue to play the motherfucking flute.

OR

If we let Sam learn to play the bassoon, we will be expanding his ability to enjoy playing music and, hey, learning a new skill is never a bad thing, right? Furthermore, if there are ten million flutists in every band and zero to one bassoonists, mayhap we are making him more marketable and likely to attain gainful musical employment by letting him learn the bassoon. We should just let Sam play the stupid bassoon already.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

Will we be diluting his musicianship by letting him play a second instrument before he has mastered the first?

If we let him learn the bassoon, how long before he insists we purchase a bassoon for him?

How loud is a bassoon and how miserable will it make our lives at home when he is practicing, particularly in the early days when he is not very good?

If Sam helps out his band by taking up the bassoon, how grateful will his music teacher be and how many A’s will she give him?

If it turns out that Alex is right and I am wrong, will I have to divorce him or the internet?

Thoughts?

A Word About the Albatross

I have an old college chum that I love dearly. For reasons that will become clear later, I will refer to her as The Albatross. The Albatross is a Badass. Please take note of the capital “B” on that word.

Photo of a large white bird swimming in water.

This is an actual albatross, not my friend The Albatross.

The Albatross is hardcore. At some point she discovered cycling and she fell in love with it, going on cycling adventure after cycling adventure, as well as any number of non-cycling escapades. My favorite is the solo cycling trip she took from coast to coast of Australia.

Yeah. Badass.

Her badassery is not the only fabulous thing about her. She is an all-around really cool person too, but that’s not what this is about.

I had the good fortune of getting to crew for The Albatross more than once for what used to be called the Furnace Creek 508 (and now seems to be called just the 508). That race was a 508-mile bike race through Death Valley. Apparently the course has changed a little since the era my friend raced it, but it continues to run 508 miles through the desert each year.

The 508 is where The Albatross became The Albatross. See, the 508 doesn’t assign numbers to racers, but instead gives them animal totems. I think my friend got the best one.

The Albatross killed her previous races, regardless of result, especially considering how punk rock her approach to them was—and trust me, it was. She also put up with preeettty unknowledgeable and haphazard crews with very little complaint. That is where the hardcore part comes in.

The reason I bring all of this up now is because The Albatross is flying again. She’s racing the 508 this weekend, presumably with a crew who knows something about bike racing and bike repair. I don’t know if she’ll see this before she races, but I hope she knows how many happy, fast, flying thoughts I am sending her way.

Friend, you are amazing. Go get that 508. Fly, Albatross. I love you.

UPDATED: She did it!!!!!!!!!!!!! She crossed the finish line in 41 hours and 48 minutes. That is a hell of a lot of bike riding. You rock so hard, friend!!!

Long Form Exposition: Scenes From Disney World

Photo of a sign painted on a wall. It is a blue arrow pointing to the right with the words "Fun this way!" painted in white over it.

Pretend the arrow is pointing down.

Remember when Chester and I went to Disney World with our friend Heather like a month ago? Well, I’m finally here to tell you aaaaaaall about it. And when I say aaaaaaaall about it, I kinda mean it. This could be a long post, so if you’re not into Disney or Chester or awesome trips, you’re free to skip it.

I’ll start with the snacks we ate on the airplane ride down. (I repeat: aaaaaall about it.)

Photo of stuffed mouse Chester, wearing Mickey Mouse ears, sitting on an airplane tray table. He's sitting next to a package of airplane pretzels and is holding one, which happens to be just the perfect tiny size for his hand.

Isn’t it nice that Southwest makes Chester-size snacks?

We arrived in Florida in the early afternoon, checked into our hotel, and went straight to the Magic Kingdom, because when you go to Disney World with Heather, you don’t fuck around and you certainly don’t mill about in a hotel room during open park hours.

We arrived at the park and took an immediate right turn into the line to meet Tinkerbell because it’s nice to be greeted at the beginning of your vacation by a friendly Disney character. Unfortunately, I came bearing a confusing mouse in a hat and with only marginal knowledge of the Tinkerbell multiverse.

Photo of me, Tinkerbell, and Heather. I am holding Chester in front of me and Tinkerbell is looking at him with a bewildered and amused look on her face.

This photo was taken shortly before things spiraled out of control.

My memory is a little fuzzy about the whole thing, but evidently Tinkerbell knows a mouse named Cheese and asked if Chester was like Cheese and I mouthed/whispered, “Is Cheese a mouse?” to Heather, at which point Tinkerbell started sassing me about, “Of course Cheese is a mouse. Why would I say that if Cheese wasn’t a mouse?” and I didn’t have a good answer and Tinkerbell kept shouting questions at me and then Heather’s phone started ringing in her backpack and Tinkerbell started yelling “HELLO?! HELLO?!” into Heather’s back and eventually we wandered off, befuddled about the fact that we’d just been yelled at by Tinkerbell.

It was AWESOME.

Then we walked outside and it started to pour rain.

Photo of a lamp post decorated with a Disney-themed Halloween decoration in the foreground. Behind it is Disney World's City Hall. It is pouring rain in the photo.

Let’s not even go into the fact that they put up their Halloween decorations in early September. We don’t want to get me riled up about that again.

We spent some time standing under an overhang, convinced that the rainy season in Florida wasn’t really a thing, then we accepted reality and pulled out our ponchos and umbrellas and got down to business.

Fortunately the rain stopped in time for Heather’s first Disney happy freakout: The Appearance of Rabbit.

For those of you like me who might have watched the happy freakout with a blank face, I’m talking about the yellow rabbit from Winnie the Pooh. ( IMG_3242) Rabbit was meeting people for, like, 20 minutes at a time and then he’d go away and Tigger would come for the next 20 minutes and so on.

Heather—who couldn’t have cared less about Tigger—and I spent a tense half hour in line worried that the line was going to move too fast and we’d have to meet Tigger because we got to the front of the line too fast. Then we started to worry that the line was going to move too slow and Rabbit would be gone when we got there. There was MUCH drama, too much to go into, but the end result was this:

Photo of Rabbit, Heather, me, and Winnie the Pooh

We were the last people to see Rabbit before his handlers whisked him away. The Magic of Disney (and sucking up to said handlers), y’all.

The Magic Kingdom on a Thursday evening about a week after school started and shortly after a rain storm is a great place to be. It’s not hot, there aren’t a lot of lines, and the clouds make fantastic backgrounds for photos.

Photo of Cinderella's castle with dark clouds in the background.

Oooooooh. Aaaaaaah.

The nice weather and short lines actually created quite a problem for Heather because we not only did all the things on her itinerary for that evening, but also many of the items slated for the next morning, throwing everything into chaos and uncertainty.

We went back to the Magic Kingdom the next morning, even though it meant we had to re-ride rides (the horror!) and re-look at cool stuff (even more the horror!).

We met a lot of characters on this trip to Disney. I don’t know what it is about them, but every time I met one of these people inside what is probably a germ-covered fur suit, I reacted in a manner similar to this:

Photo of Goofy standing next to me. My arms are up in the air and I have an open-mouthed happy expression on my face. Heather is in the background smiling.

And I don’t even like Goofy. I find him vaguely threatening.

I think it might have something to do with how hard the characters work to entertain visitors. I’m dying to know what the people who wear these costumes really think of their jobs, but they are all endlessly entertaining.

Photo of Heather with Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. He has her pressed up against his chest and is showing off his (fake) pecs and biceps. She has a hilariously trapped and amused expression on her face.

Like Gaston. Gaston was SUPER entertaining. This photo cracks me up every time I look at it.

It rained every evening we were in Florida for at least a little while, but every morning and most afternoons were absolutely beautiful, as you can see from this photo of Rapunzel’s tower, which as far as I could tell served as decor surrounding a bathroom.

Photo of a beautiful blue sky with wispy clouds behind Rapunzel's tower.

Best. Bathroom. Ever.

We had lunch at the Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant, Be Our Guest, which was really cool. Heather and I both ate some sort of delicious slab of beef and potatoes that was delivered to us by waiters who found our table through the Magic of Disney, also known as the use of surveillance and tracking through our Magic Bands. It was both exciting and creepy at the same time.

Photo of Heather's chocolate cupcake and my strawberry cupcake.

But it came with cupcakes, so I let it slide.

Although there seem to be approximately 85 parades daily in the Magic Kingdom, we only watched one. It was cool. I know it has some specific name/time designation that is important to Disneyphiles in understanding exactly which parade it is that we saw, but all I can tell you is that it took place in the middle of the day and we sat near slightly upsetting white birds who were semi-cannibalistically trolling for turkey leg scraps.

Photo of a white bird eating a discarded turkey leg.

I feel bad even showing this to you.

If that photo makes you as sad as it makes me, here is this way nicer photograph of a white bird posing in front of a boat.

Photo of a lovely white bird on a post in front of a large boat on a small lake.

Consider your palate cleansed.

Where was I? Oh, right. The parade. It was totally cool and had all of the best characters up to and including Anna and Elsa from Frozen, who seem to be the talk of the Disney universe these days. We didn’t meet Anna and Elsa because I think you had to be willing to stand in line for longer than Heather and I were willing to stand in line to do so, but I did get this photo of them in the parade, which I think is just as good.

Photo of a Frozen float in the parade with Anna and Elsa standing next to a statue of Olaf.

Or, you know, nowhere near as good, but good damn enough.

It was fun to see all the characters in the parade, each one more charming than the—AAAAAAIIIIIGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Photo of a mime character from Tangled. He's kinda freaky looking.

Except for that guy. That guy is fucking terrifying.

During our wanderings around the Magic Kingdom, I came across many lovely scenes into which it was almost mandatory that I insert Chester.

Photo of Chester in his Mickey Mouse hat. He is sitting on a statue of Cinderella. At the base of the statue are several statue mice also wearing hats and exactly the same size as Chester.

Chester was happy to find his place among other like-sized mice in hats.

Unfortunately, when you take a mouse like Chester to Disney World, sometimes terrible things happen.

Photo of Chester wearing his Mickey Mouse hat on which one ear has broken off.

DISASTER.

Do you want to know something bizarre though? Just a couple of hours after Chester’s hat broke, Heather and I were headed to Hoop-Dee-Doo, dinner theater that is based out of the campground on Disney property. We got there early so we wandered through the gift shop there where we found a key chain featuring the very same hat that had just broken.

There are a few amazing things about this. Chester’s original hat came from a Christmas ornament, making the acquisition of an exact replica of the hat in another form surprising. Furthermore, this one gift shop that we happened upon at this exact time is the ONLY one in all of Disney World that had this hat. (Really. We went to all of them.) Thirdly, we happened to be at that gift shop at the EXACT time that we needed a Chester-sized hat. Fourthly, the keychain part of the hat fit perfectly around Chester’s neck, securing the hat to his body AND giving him that punk rock look that is so popular these days among jet-setting stuffed mice.

Spooky.

In news of other small things in hats to drag around Disney World, I give you this photo taken the next morning in line for Epcot that made me extremely happy.

Photo of Chester in his hat next to a small Beaker (from the Muppets) also in a Mickey Mouse hat.

I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE.

Epcot is Chester’s favorite park because of all the photo ops. Belt in for a series of Chester pics in no particular order. Maybe grab a beer.

Photo of Chester holding a small beer stein that says "Germany" on it.

After all the photos I’ve posted of Chester (and Algernon) with giant alcoholic beverages, it was refreshing to see him holding a mouse-sized drink.

I like France at Epcot because they have delicious warm ham and cheese sandwiches. Chester likes France because of all the similarly eared friends.

Photo of Chester on a shelf with several identical stuffed animals. They are the rat from Ratatouille.

One of these things is not like the other.

Spread throughout Epcot, there are also any number of creatures for Chester to ride.

Chester riding a camel sculpture

A camel…

Chester riding a horse sculpture

…a horse…

Chester riding a burro statue

…a burro…

Chester riding a Chinese dragon

…a dragon…

Chester riding a stuffed caribou

…a caribou…

Chester riding a blue snake that looks like a cartoon sperm

…a sperm.

There are also a surprising number of Chester-sized props, many in the form of hats. Seriously, if you go to Disney, take a small stuffed animal with you and look for funny photo ops. It will make your trip infinity times better.

Chester in a small silver Viking hat.

It’s Viking Chester!

Chester wearing a giant Chester-sized cowboy hat and sitting next to another one that says I <3 Mexico on it.

It’s Mexican cowboy Chester!

Chester holding a Chester-sized bongo drum.

It’s Drum Circle Chester!

It did pour pretty hard around lunchtime on the day we spent at Epcot. We had walked dryly into Mexico and were left staring wistfully through the rain towards the restaurant we wanted to eat lunch at in Morocco. Eventually we poncho-ed up and scurried through the rain only to arrive at our hummus-filled destination juuuuust as the rain stopped.

Epcot was also the location of the weirdest character interaction I had. We were wandering past England and there was Alice, you know, from the Wonderland, just standing there. So I jumped up and down a lot and then Chester and I went up to talk to her and in her adorable British accent she said Chester was super cute and then she asked if Chester was the Dormouse and I was all, “Uhhhhhhhhh…” and she was all, “Do you put jam on his nose?” and I said again, “Uhhhhhhhhh…” and she said, “Mustard! Do you put mustard on his nose?” and to stop what was looking to be a really long, repetitive conversation, I said, “YES!” and then she said, “One minute!” and she went running across the walkway to grab a bunch of mustard packs from the pretzel stand across the way and then she brought them back and handed them to me and then we posed for a photo. It was kind of confusing. I spent the rest of the night thinking about it.

Three photos (1) I am facing Alice. Chester is on my finger and Alice is touching him. (2) I look confused as hell and my mouth is hanging open and Alice looks intrigued. (3) Alice and I am smiling at the camera. I am holding Chester and several mustard packets.

This is a totally accurate representation of our meeting, especially the photo in the middle.

To prepare for each morning with Heather, Chester needed some caffeine. This seems as good a time as any to admit to you all that I relapsed back onto Diet Coke a couple of months ago.

Photo of Chester sitting on a reusable mug full of soda. There is a straw near his mouth.

Chester did too.

I’ll be sure to let you know how the November re-quitting goes.

Where was I? Oh, right, the next day was Hollywood Studios Day. Now, in front of Hollywood Studios is a topiary scene from Fantasia. I always refer to Fantasia as “That horror movie Mickey Mouse starred in” because the first time I saw that movie it scared the crap out of me and I’ve never been able to watch it all the way through since. No one ever quite understands what I mean when I call it a horror movie though.

Until now.

I spent something like 15 minutes explaining this to Heather though so now at least one person understands.

Photo of me standing in front of a topiary Mickey and statues of those terrifying brooms with buckets from Fantasia. I am biting my nails in an exaggerated scared posture.

And was willing to take this photo.

Hollywood Studios was all kinds of fun, but there are some things that stick out in my memory. Like this cupcake:

Photo of Chester next to a GIANT cupcake.

This cupcake was taller than Chester.

In case you’re wondering, that was a chocolate cupcake with chocolate filling, cream cheese frosting, and a thick coating of Butterfingers. It totally defeated me. I could only eat half of it—and I worked really hard. It was quite a cupcake.

Speaking of Chester, he found some rodent friends in the form of Chip & Dale on Hollywood Studios Day. We’d actually seen them several times since we’d been in Florida, but the line was always too long to meet them. (Why? Who knows.) Finally Chester got his chance.

Squirrel characters Chip and Dale flanking me and Heather. One of them is pointing at Chester, who is on my finger.

I have no idea which one of them is pointing at him. They look exactly the same. You would think they would have different colored hats or something. Even so, I’d probably still not know which one was pointing.

There were some other good characters there too. I don’t have a scrapbook. You’re going to have to put up with me showing you all of the photos.

Photo of me with Phineas and Ferb

Jack was totally starstruck when I told him I’d met Phineas and Ferb.

And you can’t beat Sully and Mike Wazowski. I think that the Monsters, Inc. stuff at Disney World is some of the most entertaining stuff there. (This might also be the time to share that Heather provided a joke used in the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Factory show. She glowed for, like, 48 hours.)

Three photos (1) Mike, me, Heather, Sully. Heather and I are making scary monster faces. (2) me hugging Sully (3) me hugging Mike

That photo of me with Mike is one of my favorite things ever. I couldn’t tell if he was ignoring my hug or just didn’t move because of his costume. I was privately amused for a long time over this.

There is a drawing class you can take at Hollywood Studios that was a lot of fun. Chester got really into it.

Photo of Chester holding a pencil poised over a drawing of Mickey Mouse.

It’s okay if you say that “Chester” didn’t do a very good job. Heather’s was better.

One of the things we decided to do that day was go on the backlot tour, partly because we had extra time and partly because the waiting area was covered and it was raining again. There was quite a wait before we finally boarded our bus just as lightning started to flash and an announcement came over the loudspeakers that they were closing the ride. But then our bus started off. Which was, you know, great, but made those of us on the bus wonder why we were expendable.

Sadly for us, we weren’t actually expendable and about five minutes into the tour, they returned us to the exit, which, yay! we get to live! but boo! we wanted to go on the tour!

Shortly thereafter we bailed from Hollywood Studios and headed to Epcot to eat a huge amount of German food. And a fair amount of beer.

Photo of Chester in front of a flight of four beers. His hat is askew.

Look how visibly drunk Chester is.

The next day was our last day (Thank God, right? I mean, how fucking long is this post going to be anyway?) and we were spending most of it at Animal Kingdom. I love this park so much.

Photo of Chester on the ground surrounded by feet.

Chester was excited too.

I took a lot of pictures at this park, but most of them are blurry photos of birds and rhino butts, so I won’t make you look at all of them. Especially since I’ve been writing this post for a stupid week now and I’m ready to just wrap it up already. I will, however, show you this awesome photo we have of Dug from Up and also the kid that was in the movie.

Photo of Russell (from Up), Heather, Jean, and Dug

When we walked in, I gave Dug a vigorous scratching behind his ears. Instead of pretending to bite me, as I probably would have done if I were in the suit, he bent down and wagged his body. It’s almost as if he were saying, “I was hiding under your porch because I looove you.”

Animal Kingdom day was super fun. We ended the day—our last night—at the Magic Kingdom. We ended up meeting Cinderella and Rapunzel shortly before we caught our bus back to our hotel. It was close to closing and I kinda got the feeling that the princesses didn’t want to spend too much time on the childless adults in line when there were scads of kids looking to meet them. I think that Rapunzel actually gave me a little shove after we had our photo taken.

It seemed that our time at Disney was over.

Photo of Chester sitting on top of a suitcase with a Stimeyland luggage tag. He seems to be putting his Mickey Mouse hat in the suitcase.

It was a little sad to pack up to go.

Our adventure started with a fairy yelling at us and ended with a princess pushing us out of line. It was perfection.

This trip to Disney World was such a blast. I feel so lucky that I was able to go and I feel so lucky that I have a good friend like Heather who worked so hard to plan everything and who was willing to put up with me for five days. She’s the greatest. Chester thinks she’s tops too.

Photo of me, Chester, Mickey Mouse, and Heather

Thank you, Heather. :)

Every Day a Little Easier

I realized the other day that I haven’t updated you on the Quinn vs. School situation lately and that the last you heard, things were rough. While Quinn is still emphatic about not being the kind of kid who enjoys school, every day is better than the last and he is, if not super incredibly happy to be going to school every day, at least not madder about going to his new school than he was about going to his old school.

This year, all students in our district ended up with email addresses, something that came as a surprise when one evening Quinn was laughing hysterically about the emails he and Sam were sending each other. I took a look at his account and noticed that he had been sending emails to a kid from his school, some kid I’d never heard of.

QUINN HAS A FRIEND!!!

I mean, yeah, the email was something along the lines of “poooo00000ppp ha ha %^*^%#*@&#( meow meow cat,” but he was communicating with a peer from his school so, you know, rock on wit yo bad self, Q-ball.

Fast forward to last week when Quinn was all excited to go to his new school’s back to school picnic. Grabbing on to the fact that Quinn was excited about something about school, we ditched Sam’s soccer practice, Alex came home from work early, and we all headed over to the picnic.

We weren’t social butterflies or anything at the picnic, with my kids playing almost entirely with just each other, but they were happy. They played in the dirt and ran on the playground and found sticks.

Photo of Quinn standing on a path holding a stick. He looks distinctly NOT miserable.

“Take a picture of this stick, Mom. This is a good stick.”

They made Alex pull a hula hoop out of a tree near the playground and then Quinn hunted down the principal and gave it to her because “it belongs to the school.” Then the principal had to carry the dirty hula hoop around all night. Good times.

Also, Quinn’s reading teacher brought her dog, which, regardless of whether he can define any of this week’s vocabulary words, he could write an essay on this dog and his quirks. So at least I know he’s been paying attention to something in class.

So anyway, we know one family at the school and we were standing there talking to them when this other mom came up. Somehow it came up that her son was in fourth grade and then she mentioned his name and it was EMAIL KID!!!

Then Alex and I kind of made asses of ourselves, being all, “You’re Email Kid’s mom?! Is Email Kid here?! We’re sooooo excited about Email Kid!” Then I made her give me her phone number.

I think we might have come across as desperate and a little overbearing.

But Quinn was all, “Email Kid is here? Where is he?” and then he ran off to see him and later he asked if he could have a playdate with him, so I’m okay with being overbearing and desperate because Quinn has a friend—or at least someone he talks to—at his new school and that’s awesome.

We also have an EMT meeting (the meeting to decide if he is eligible for evaluation for an IEP or 504 plan) set up for the end of this month, at the school’s instigation. Quinn is back to trying to be the first kid on the school bus instead of me having to shove him on board. And the other day I watched him walk down the street after bus drop off with another kid who lives down the street.

So we’re feeling all right over here. I’m not saying that Quinn isn’t ridiculously brave to set off every day in a world full of sensory assault—he most definitely is—but he keeps getting happier, and I will take that.

Captain Clumsy and the 21K Race

I ran my very first half marathon last Sunday. And you know what?

I killed it.

Like, not just, “Oh, I ran a half marathon and I’m proud of myself,” but “I fucking killed that race to the best of my motherfucking abilities.”

You guys, I was so scared for that race. I never thought it would go as well as it did. I finished in 2:35:11, which is really a million years for many half marathoners, but for me? It was a motherfucking VICTORY.

Selfie of me taken in front of the finish line. There is a big green banner behind me reading "FINISH"Some details (which could take you as long to read as it took me to run the damn race):

The distance: I do a lot of math calculations when I run. I divide time by distance to figure out my pace, I add and subtract to determine how many miles I’ve run and how many I have to go, and sometimes I figure out what the distance I’m running is in kilometers. It keeps my mind busy and passes the time and miles. Or kilometers, whichever you prefer.

It was about mile five in last Sunday’s race that I figured out that a half marathon is about 21K. I instantly forgot the answer, but I assure you that I did have it at one time. Also, Google can do the calculation in, like, a millionth of a second.

The Fear: Prior to running this race, I was scared to death. In fact, it had taken great courage and probably five or six trips to the registration page to even sign up for the thing in the first place.

Thirteen miles seems like a lot of miles when you’re on the starting end of them.

That Fear continued through pre-race eavesdropping on thin people in running tights (“I’ve only run four times this week,” “I’m using this as a training run for my marathon training”) right up until the first couple of waves of runners had set off and I realized that if I didn’t hit the porta potties, the next thirteen miles would become increasingly uncomfortable. Fortunately, after the race has started, there are no lines for the bathrooms and I was able to pee and get back in the corral before my wave (the last one) was released.

Once I started running, the Fear dissipated. That is the great thing about racing. Once you’re in it, you’re in it and even though I was well aware of how brave I’d been to register and force myself to show up that morning, after the start line the Fear goes away. I spent the next .74 miles without any fear at all.

The Captain Clumsy part: So, I ran 13.1 miles all in a row, but I did it in probably the ugliest way possible. I was three-quarters of a mile in when I fell flat on my face, toes to nose on the asphalt. Seriously, people, it was like I was diving for first base.

Frankly, considering how packed in all the runners were at the time, it is a MIRACLE that I didn’t take down a bunch of other people with me. As you know though, I jumped right back up. Then I spent the next half mile trying not to visibly cry because, Christ. Really?

You may be thinking, “Oh, well, at least she got that out of the way early on so she could get down to business and run the rest of the race without being a complete buffoon.”

How wrong you would be.

Fast forward to mile 12.6. I trip on a rock and do another nosedive to the ground, this one coupled with a slight roll to the side. I popped up, assured the two nearby runners that I was fine and had, in fact, already fallen once in the race and set off running again.

Then I realized that even though I felt fine, every time I inhaled, I made an involuntary gasping sound. I kept running, going over possible reasons for this weirdness. This is what I came up with: (1) I was in some sort of shock and was panicking, (2) I had somehow inhaled a chunk of gravel and it was busy killing me, or (3) the wind had been knocked out of me.

I stopped to walk and concentrated on taking slow breaths. A few seconds later the gasping stopped and I continued on my way.

It is quite obviously awesome to be me.

The injuries: Fortunately, other than some bruising, abrasions, and a big chunk of skin that ripped off of the palm of my hand, I escaped from my falls unscathed. This is fortunate, because I was already facing down enough aches and pains—a trifecta of injuries, if you will.

The hip injury: Remember my hip injury from last year? Well, it’s on the other side now. I’m steadfastly ignoring it.

The wonky knee: This isn’t actually a running injury. I have a wonky knee. It’s been wonky for a long time and it actually feels better when I run than when I don’t. A couple of weeks ago, I sat on a couch with my knee tucked under me the wrong way and ever since it has hurt to do such strenuous things as walk up or down stairs. Fortunately, (1) there are no stairs in (most) half marathons and (2) “resting” by not running and going to Disney World instead seemed to have let it get a lot better. I am encouraged that ice and rest obviously helped so much.

It isn’t completely healed though, as I discovered when I could feel it slowing me down on some of the uphills. Not a lot, but there’s definitely something going on there.

The peroneal tendonitis: This is what my doctor called it. He said it was painful, but not harmful, which pleases me because I don’t care if it hurts (see: hip); I just don’t want my ankle to blow out. I went on a five-mile run last week and it fucking hurt. Like, I’m tough, but damn. I was worried that bad things were going to happen to it on Sunday.

I made sure to stretch and loosen it before the race and I KT taped it as well. I was not just happy, but astonished that it didn’t hurt even a little bit during the whole 13 miles. Honestly, it was a little weird. But I’ll take it.

The pace: I’m still not a super fast runner, but I’m getting faster. I even ran a 5K this summer at a 10:30 minute pace, but there is a big difference between 3 miles and 13. My speed tends to drop off dramatically after a few miles. That is why I was so surprised to finish with an average 11:51 minute/mile pace.

Honestly, I was hoping to finish this race just ahead of the official 12:26 minute/mile cutoff pace. I just didn’t want to be swept off the course because I wasn’t running fast enough. Never would I have imagined running an 11:51 pace. The best average pace I’d allowed myself to hope for in this half marathon was maaaybe12:20.

I remember passing 10 miles well under two hours and marveling that I’d covered that distance nearly 15 minutes faster than when I ran my ten-miler in early March.

I have no idea how that happened.

Actually, I do. It probably has a lot to do with the hundreds of miles I’ve run this year. That’s probably how it happened. But still. It was surprising.

The mood: Somewhere around mile four, my stomach started to hurt. I was really bummed out because no other part of me was sad. My feet didn’t hurt, my legs weren’t tired, and my mind wasn’t fatigued. Happily, the stomach pangs went away after about a mile and I spent the rest of the run feeling pretty damn good.

I’m not sure what helped me run these thirteen miles in what felt like the most effortless long run I’ve had in a long time. I think it helped that the course is familiar as well as pretty flat/downhill, but I was prepared to be in pain and I never really got there. I somehow managed to fuel exactly right with the Gatorade and water stations set up every two miles and a few energy chews I’d stuffed in my waist pack. I didn’t spend the majority of the race thinking about how far I still had to run, something that often happens.

Everything came together perfectly.

I’m not saying this race was easy. It was a lot of running and there were points when I wanted to stop and walk (but didn’t!), but I was really proud of the way I managed it. Maybe someone can tell me why I could do this race, but it is so goddamn hard to run three continuous miles on a treadmill.

The cheerleaders: One of my lower points came at around mile nine. I was tired and the distance I still had to cover was just long enough to be a little bit demoralizing. The thing that kept me going was knowing that my family was coming to cheer me on just before mile ten. My family rarely makes it out to races, so having them on the course was a big deal.

“I can run to my family,” I told myself. “I can run to my family. I can run to my family.”

I knew where they were going to be standing and once I was close enough, I strained my eyes looking for them. I was so happy to see my babies jumping up and down with hands out for high fives. “HI, BABIES!” I called, slapping hands and smiling so big. I felt really special having a cheering squad out there. I don’t think they have any idea how far their presence carried me.

Standing just past my kiddos was Alex. And he had chosen to wear the shirt I had bought for him at Disney World. This shirt:

Photo of Alex wearing a blue shirt with the words "i am unstoppable" on it. The graphic is of a red t-rex with short front arms holding one of those dinosaur headed picker-upper thingies. Alex also has his arms in a t-rex pose and has a very funny look on his face.

How super cute is Alex?

I had my mantra for the next three miles.

I am unstoppable. I am unstoppable. I am unstoppable.

And I was.

The finish: At some point I realized that I was on track to finish in under two hours and thirty-six minutes, which was, like, a super stretch goal. The desire to beat that time kept me going through that last terrible mile. Ugh. That last mile. It sucked. I think that is the nature of last miles, but let’s be honest here, mine was particularly gruesome what with my unplanned trip to the gravel less than a half mile from the finish.

It was all worth it when I crossed that finish line though. I feel really proud of myself. Since starting to run again a couple of years ago, I’ve done a lot of things that I’m proud of, but this one felt really good. It feels like a real accomplishment. I feel brave and strong and proud. It feels great.

I also earned a beer glass that unfortunately came without beer, a situation I was able to rectify.

Photo of a beer glass that read "Parks Half Marathon Finisher" on it. There is a circle of autumn colored leaves around a wolf standing next to a tree. Only the bottom quarter of the glass still has beer because I done drunk it all.The conclusion: Guess what guys? Turns out I’m unstoppable. And a little bit of a dunce. But mostly the unstoppable thing.